The Chico News and Review reports on the journey of Richard Wodrich to the double lung transplant he received at UCSF Medical Center for treatment of irreversible and incurable chronic lung disease. The transplant was performed by Dr. Jasleen Kukreja, Surgical Director of the UCSF Lung Transplant Program.
Longtime local bluegrass musician Richard Wodrich loves to sing and play guitar, but that became progressively more difficult over the last decade or so, to the point where he had trouble just breathing—let alone playing music.
About four years ago, he was formally diagnosed with chronic lung disease, but that didn’t keep him down. In fact, Wodrich, 68, was singing in the choir at Bidwell Presbyterian Church on March 22, when he got a call from his wife, Marci Goulart: Doctors at UC San Francisco Medical Center had harvested lungs from an organ donor, and they had to drive there immediately for transplant surgery.
Goulart recalls that, during the drive, her husband was positive, clear-minded and fully ready for the transplant despite knowing the risks inherent in an eight-hour surgery. Wodrich’s excitement was understandable. The operation, if successful, would reverse years of decline and potentially add years to his life...........
About four years ago he received diagnoses of pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema; he retired about a year later, at age 65. At first he used oxygen only at night, when breathing slows. But his condition worsened and, starting last summer, he was tethered to an oxygen machine full-time.
By then, Wodrich had already started exploring the possibility of a lung transplant. The couple went first to Stanford University Medical Center, where he underwent four days of intensive testing including heart catheterization, X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, a colonoscopy, immunizations and extensive blood tests. They took those records to the lung transplant program at UCSF, and Wodrich was added to the waiting list for new lungs in June 2014.
But it got complicated. During an X-ray of his chest in Chico, doctors discovered a nodule on his lungs, and they feared it was cancer. Goulart explained that a cancer diagnosis automatically makes a patient ineligible for a transplant. In order for the body to accept a foreign object like a new organ, a patient must take medication to suppress the immune system, and that would allow cancer to spread freely. But doctors eventually determined the nodule was benign, and Wodrich was relisted in January.
The surgery itself, performed by UCSF’s Dr. Jasleen Kukreja, went off without a hitch. However, Wodrich didn’t wake up immediately after the procedure—or for two days afterward. In his weakened state and connected to a breathing tube, Wodrich was at high risk of contracting pneumonia. Kukreja was on the verge of removing the breathing tube and performing a tracheotomy when Wodrich woke up the morning of the third day.
The UCSF Lung Transplant Program is a true multi-disciplinary collaboration that includes surgeons, pulmonologists, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, social workers, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, administrative staff and others. "Teamwork is critical to the success of our program," states Jasleen Kukreja, M.D., MPH, Surgical Director of the program. “The success is multifactorial and a multidisciplinary effort that starts with excellent anesthetic management, meticulous surgical technique and perioperative surgical care, and long-term close surveillance.”